Amgen believes that true partnerships can generate meaningful advances in healthcare provision and health outcomes; this has already been demonstrated by Amgen’s commitment to value-based partnerships
In 2012, Amgen made human genetics a central part of its R&D strategy and acquired deCODE to serve as a cornerstone of its genetics research focus.
deCODE Genetics combines large-scale genetic data with phenotypic data from healthcare records and other sources to generate insights into the relationship between genetic variation and disease. They have also invented ways to leverage genealogical records to impute additional data by tracking the genes that travel together among blood relatives.
To ensure the continued trust of research participants, Amgen and deCODE have built a working relationship that safeguards deCODE’s commitments. Genetic and phenotypic data are stored at deCODE and not accessible from anywhere else. However, Amgen sees new scientific findings generated by deCODE before they are published, and Amgen scientists can pose questions that deCODE can answer based on insights from the data.
Amgen scientists can query their deCODE colleagues about what the genetic data might say about the relevance of a drug target or the likely effects of specific test drugs in humans. For example, if an Amgen test drug perturbs a gene besides its intended target, deCODE can shed light on whether that impact is likely to lead to serious side effects.
The data behind deCODE’s discoveries was initially generated in Iceland, where the small and largely homogenous population offers certain advantages. That includes the founder effect, which occurs when most of a population can be traced to relatively few ancestors. If one ancestor had a rare mutation, that mutation is relatively common in Iceland today, which increases the statistical power needed to show how a gene variant impacts disease risk. However, the founder effect also means that fewer gene variants are found in Iceland.
At the time of the 2012 Amgen acquisition, deCODE had genotyped about half of Iceland’s population and sequenced 2600 Icelanders. In recent years, deCODE had been diversifying its data by collecting large amounts of genetic and health information from research volunteers in other countries. As of early 2019, deCODE had genotypic data from 1.6 million individuals and roughly 80,000 whole genome sequences. Those numbers will expand significantly, as Amgen and deCODE have entered into large collaborations with Intermountain Healthcare and the UK Biobank to further expand the diversity of the data pipeline.
Learn more on the deCODE website.
UK Biobank - In September 2019, deCODE was named as one of just two sequencing providers, along with the Wellcome Sanger Institute, in the highly ambitious Whole Genome Sequencing Project. The project plans to read the full genomes of all 500,000 participants in the UK Biobank, a research charity that is following the health of its many volunteers to improve disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Amgen is one of four corporate partners helping to fund the project, which also has the support of the UK government. Click here to read the press release.